leadership dot #2786: high trust

I doubt that thought leader Simon Sinek reads leadership dots, but his latest video makes it seem like he does! His new work fits right in with what I wrote about yesterday (see dot 2785) when he shares what the Navy SEALs taught him about how they select their members – evaluating others on a matrix of performance vs. trust.

The SEALs have learned that the next best thing to a High Performer with High Trust is a Medium or Low Performer with High Trust – not the High Performer with Low Trust as I independently described yesterday. And, as we all know, there are many ways to measure outcomes, but “negligible to no metrics to measure someone’s trustworthiness” says Sinek. Amen!

Even without explicit ways to hire for trust, the trait usually becomes evident early in employment. Supervisors would be wise to reward and recognize team members who exhibit the characteristic and treat trust as even more valuable than other performance metrics.

Watch Sinek’s 2-minute video on the topic here.


leadership dot #2775: compelling

“One of the biggest differentiators between those who are skilled leaders and those who are unskilled leaders, between those who are really leading and those who are leaders in name only, is their effort and ability to craft a compelling vision of where they want to take their groups*.”

I have seen this phenomenon play out over and over – especially with new leaders who are more accustomed to being told the vision instead of having to craft one. I’ve also seen too many leaders who run into problems because they have a vision, but no one else knows what it is. A vision that is not shared does not inspire anyone.

One person who is synonymous with vision is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As you celebrate the holiday today, pause for a few moments to think about his vision for the county. In 1963, King spoke from the March on Washington: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

 How can your vision move your organization forward? What does your dream look like? Share that story with passion to give others a compelling reason to follow.

*Julie Straw, Mike Scullard, Susie Kukkonen, Barry Davis. Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead (Wiley, 2013), p. 18 as quoted by Terri Fairchild on LinkedIn.





leadership dot #2758: feeder

I have a bird feeder that allows two birds to eat at the same time directly from the feeder. What happens in reality is that many more birds also eat simultaneously by feasting off the seeds that fall from the feeder while the others are there.

The process is akin to the job of the leaders – those at the feeder do work that makes it possible for others to benefit. It’s not just themselves that they are feeding, rather they create an environment where many others can flourish.

Think about your work: can you do it in such a way that contributes value to more than yourself?

leadership dot #2736: digital

So much for the handwritten note – the latest trend in employee recognition is to issue a digital BadgeBot that people can post on their Twitter account. I’m personally not a fan but apparently, there are others who would find this sort of pat-on-the-back appealing.

There are benefits: digital badges allow the sender to include a picture or even short video sharing with the world the accomplishment of the honoree, and they certainly give new meaning to the idea of “public” recognition when the public includes access to the whole world via the web.

For me, a note of appreciation still is the way to go. I like to give a one-to-one acknowledgment of the person’s contribution as it seems more heartfelt and personal. But leaders need to understand the generational differences and preferences of their staff. As part of learning about those your supervise, seek to gain understanding about the type of recognition that is most meaningful to them: public vs. private, time off vs. monetary compensation, and small Purple Clovers that show you know them.

No matter how you do it, recognizing the good work of others is one of the most important things you do as a supervisor. Don’t let uncertainty about the method prevent you from sharing your message.


leadership dot #2734: disappoint

A senior leader was giving advice to a new supervisor who was struggling with prioritization. The manager wondered how he could get everything accomplished in a reasonable timeframe – responding to emails, returning phone calls, and attending to all the demands on his time.

“You can’t,” was the advice that was given. “I walk into the office every day and wonder ‘Who will I disappoint today?’” The voice of experience knew that her priorities would not allow her to respond to everyone in as timely of a manner as they hoped. By delaying some replies or by saying no to some requests, it allowed her to remain strategically focused on what was important. She set the priorities, not the urgent pings of email, the ringing of the phone or even people in her doorway.

Author Seth Godin asks the same question in a broader context: “Whom shall we disappoint?” as people work to create something new. That which does not disappoint someone is probably too watered down and compromised to be truly bold or creative. It’s a great question to ask when you are making decisions on new initiatives.

Those who are most successful are the ones who realize that saying no is a powerful tool. You can’t thrive by being everything for everyone. If you’re not disappointing someone else, you’re thwarting your own priorities.

Who will you disappoint today?

leadership dot #2729: lost marbles

You may have heard Brené Brown’s analogy about the marble jar – where trust is earned like marbles accumulating in a jar, one small act at a time, and where it can be lost through a series of small actions, with marbles being taken out for breaches of trust or transgressions.

What you may not have considered is that as a supervisor, your marble jar is inextricably linked to those you lead. When your staff does great things, you get marbles in your jar from the organization as a whole. When they mess up, you lose marbles and credibility.

If you have an employee who continually causes problems and you as the supervisor let it linger on without acting, you will continue to lose marbles when their behavior persists. Their marble jar may be empty – people have written them off and minimize contact – but you continue to pay the price for their poor performance.

I did not initially realize this but learned it the hard way when I did not fire an employee in a timely manner. Even though I was working one-on-one to improve their attitude, their failure to reform ultimately not only cost them their job, but I paid a personal price in my stature because of the delay. In other words, I lost a lot of marbles from my jar because of my inaction even though it was the employee’s actions that negatively impacted the organization’s culture.

If you are the supervisor of a problem employee, the window for resolving the performance issue is small. If you allow the toxic behavior to persist any length of time, it will leech out into the organization and tarnish your leadership credibility. Others will take marbles from your jar because you did not resolve the issue, irrespective of who or what caused it.

leadership dot #2702: withdrawn

A current advertisement reads: “Athletes score points, but teams win games.” While the ad is referencing the collaborative nature of a clinic the sentiment applies to teams of all types. Unfortunately, some athletes or other team members see their engagement in a team as optional. It isn’t.

In an organizational setting, everyone’s job description should include the responsibility to “be a good team member.” It doesn’t matter if a person has exceptional individual skills; they will not reach their full potential unless they can effectively function in a group setting. Acting as a “lone ranger” or independent contractor doesn’t work within an organization – at least not over the long term.

If you’re a leader or supervisor and see someone off to the sidelines or declining invitations to engage with the group, make a course correction quickly. A team needs everyone in the huddle to win the game.